Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah said his party was not involved in recent bombings that took place in India, Georgia, and Thailand earlier this month, while reiterating the party’s intention to avenge the killing of its leader Imad Mughniyeh four years ago.
“It is insulting for Hezbollah to avenge its great leader by killing ordinary Israelis, as for those who are our target, they know who they are and they are taking measures and I tell them to remain doing so for we shall avenge Imad Mughniyeh in an honorable way,” Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah was speaking during a televised speech Thursday evening to commemorate the martyrdom of three of the party’s top leaders, Ragheb Harb, Imad Mughniyeh, and Abbas al-Mousawi, at the hands of Israel. Nasrallah reiterated the continued arming of the resistance and repeated his call to pull out from public use personally owned arms.
Commenting on the Arab revolutions, Nasrallah criticized what he termed as “the interference of [Lebanon’s] March 14 and their sending of weapons and bolstering of fighting among the Syrian people,” reminding the rival political group of their objection to Hezbollah’s support of Bahraini protestors and material aid to resistance in Palestine via Egypt.
Nasrallah cautioned against discord in Egypt and pointed fingers at the US and Israel for fomenting it, saying that Israeli officials are living in a state of anxiety due to its dwindling power.
He also lamented that “Arab peoples and governments are not occupied with Palestine” while Palestinians, including prisoners on hunger strike, and Bahrainis, are left to their own devices.
In relation to Syria, Nasrallah said the regime has its shortcomings as acknowledged he says by its leadership but that “it has stood in the face of the US-Israeli project and supported resistance.” While the regime did not open up a front in Golan, none of its detractors, Nasrallah argued, has opened such a front or supported the resistance.
Nasrallah criticized the total refusal to engage with dialogue with the Syrian regime and opt for a political solution in Syria by the same people who call for negotiations with Israel and have engaged with it for decades. He leveled similar criticism against those who bar the supply of weapons to Israel while sending weapons to Syria so the “Syrians fight each other.”
Nasrallah wondered why there is “a Western-Israeli-Arab insistence to fight in Syria and topple the regime” suggesting it is cause for political reflection.
- Iran Falsely Charged with India and Georgia Attacks (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Nasrallah Calls for Unconditional Dialogue in Syria (altahrir.wordpress.com)
A newly released report submitted to the United Nations by international organizations working in Al Khalil documents a sharp increase in serious human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, particularly youth and children, living in the Old City and Tel Rumeida since the arrival of the Golani Brigade of the Israeli army on 27 December 2011.
The report documents an increase in arrests and detentions of adults and children, serious physical injuries sustained while in military custody, home invasions, and an increase in the number and duration of arbitrary detentions of civilians at checkpoints. It also documents harassment of and attempts to silence international observers attempting to document these abuses.
Contrary to military justifications, these human rights violations have occurred without observed provocation on the part of Palestinians. These accounts, either reported to or witnessed by internationals working in the city, are believed to represent only a small portion of the total number of abuses.
On Thursday, 12 January, Golani soldiers beat a developmentally disabled young man who had earlier in the day been teased by Border police who kept closing a mechanized door at a checkpoint when he tried to pass through. That evening, the Golani also attacked his mother and beat the teenager’s younger brother, cracking his skull, and then arrested the two young men.
On Tuesday, 17 January, Golani entered a man’s home at night, pushed the family out of their house, including their 1-½ year old son, and beat the father, for which he required medical treatment.
On Friday, 20 January, Golani held a ten and twelve year-old boy behind the gate of the Beit Romano settlement. A witness said the boys had been wearing ski masks because of the cold weather, but had not been throwing rocks, as the soldiers claimed. The soldiers gave the boys’ parents a list containing the names of five other boys from the Old City, saying that if the parents brought those boys to the gate, the soldiers would release the other two.
The full report is available for viewing, along with video and photos, at http://www.cpt.org/underattack
- Israeli demolition ‘displaces 120′ in Hebron village (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- International Solidarity Movement volunteers encounter settler attack and sexual harassment in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Soldiers Accidentally Kill Settler Near Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli soldiers beat and arrest two teenagers in Hebron (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli forces arrest Hebron journalist (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hebron: Occupation and Sterilization (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Extremist settlers hurl concrete blocks at Hebron’s Old Market (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Following on the Solyndra controversy, the Department of Energy under President Barack Obama is now accused of funneling billions of dollars in funding to companies that have connections within the department.
An investigation by The Washington Post found that the Energy Department has approved nearly $4 billion in federal grants and financing to 21 companies supported by firms with connections to five Obama administration staffers and advisers.
Of this amount, $2.46 billion flowed to nine businesses that have ties to VantagePoint Venture Partners, a venture capital firm where Sanjay Wagle, an Energy Department adviser, worked before coming to Washington.
The other four officials identified by the Post include Assistant Secretary David Sandalow, who previously worked for Good Energies, a company that received $737 million from the Energy Department; and Steve Westly, a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur and now a member of Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s advisory board. The Westly Group took in $600 million in federal financing.
The Obama administration says that the Energy Department employees and advisers took no part in grant-making decisions, which would mean that these business windfalls were just happy coincidences.
That a majority of people living on the island of Okinawa want the U.S. Marines gone seems a well-established fact. A plan to build a new airfield on a different part of the island in the town of Henoko is even more unpopular. One recent poll found 84 percent opposition to the new base.
And yet the New York Times tells readers today that it knows better. The headline alone over the piece by Martin Fackler tells you that those polls–not to mention the massive demonstrations against the base–shouldn’t be believed: “Amid Image of Ire Toward U.S. Bases, Okinawans’ True Views Vary.”
Unsurprisingly, the “true views” are apparently supportive of U.S. bases. As Fackler puts it, just “wander up Henoko’s narrow streets, and the villagers will tell you a different story.” The Times explains that if you “look more deeply and a nuanced picture emerges,” one that apparently supports the base and the U.S. military presence.
What of the polls that overwhelmingly say otherwise? The Times gets around to citing one of those 80 percent polls, only to turn around and say: “But look across Okinawa’s divided political spectrum and the depth of that opposition varies.”
Why put so much effort into trying to tell readers that the facts are not what they seem? It’s frankly hard to understand this one. But it can’t be said that this is a new problem for the Times–as FAIR pointed out (11/29/10):
A New York Times piece (11/29/10) on the re-election of Okinawa’s governor, who opposes the U.S. military base there, treated the views of the island’s residents as an annoyance–describing their resistance variously as a “wrench,” a “thorn” and a “headache.” The paper seemed to share the stance of the Japanese national government, which described the re-election as “one manifestation of public opinion”–and perhaps elections are not so important a manifestation, if they give the wrong results.
In a report published last week, members of the United Kingdom Parliament concluded that the Internet plays a major role in the radicalization of terrorists and called on the government to pressure Internet Service Providers in Britain and abroad to censor online speech. The Roots of Violent Radicalisation places the Internet ahead of prisons, universities, and religious establishments in propagating radical beliefs and ultimately recommends that the government “develop a code of practice for the removal of material which promotes violent extremism” binding ISPs.
While the Terrorism Act 2006 authorizes British law enforcement agencies to order certain material to be removed from websites, lawmakers on the Home Affairs Committee stated that “service providers themselves should be more active in monitoring the material they host.” Their report raises serious concerns that political and religious speech will be suppressed. Security expert Peter Neumann who testified before the Committee asked why websites like YouTube and Facebook can’t be as “effective at removing . . . extremist Islamist or extremist right-wing content” as they are at removing sexually explicit content or copyrighted material that violates their own terms of service.
Citing “persuasive evidence about the potential threat from extreme far-right terrorism” and lauding the recent conviction of four London men who used the Internet to plot a bombing of the London Stock Exchange, Parliament Members commended the report saying, “[it] tackles the threat from home-grown terrorism on and off line.” A spokesman for the House of Commons Home Office stated that the Committee would continue to “work closely with police and internet service providers to take Internet hate off the web.”
In an interview with the International Business Times, Trend Micro security director Rik Ferguson criticized the Committee’s recommendations and argued that making ISPs “judge, jury and executioner” imposes responsibilities on ISPs that rightfully belong to law enforcement. “Material of a political or religious nature is by definition much more difficult to define and much more difficult to police without crossing the line to impact on freedom of expression,” Ferguson stated.
The Committee issued its recommendations in the midst of reports that Google India had taken down online content deemed offensive to Indian political and religious leaders in response to a lawsuit. The Washington Post points out that Google Transparency Reports indicate that the UK removed nearly as much content as India from January to June 2011. Google complied with more than 80% of requests from the UK to remove content from its services.
EFF believes that it is not the role of intermediaries to serve as gatekeepers for law enforcement. Fortunately, we’re not alone: the UK’s Internet Service Providers’ Association argues that “ISPs are not best placed to determine what constitutes violent extremism and where the line should be drawn. This is particularly true of a sensitive area like radicalisation, with differing views on what may constitute violent extremist.” Indeed–the strategy set forth by the Committee defines extremism as “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values.” ISPs and other intermediaries must not be charged with determining what constitutes extremism, particularly when the definition of such is so vague. This type of state-mandated online censorship is inherently corruptible, especially when it is justified to combat national security threats.
The largest imperial offensive since the Iraq invasion of March, 2003, is in full swing, under the banner of “humanitarian” intervention – Barack Obama’s fiendishly clever upgrade of George Bush’s “dumb” wars. Having failed to obtain a Libyan-style United Nations Security Council fig leaf for a “humanitarian” military strike against Syria, the United States shifts effortlessly to a global campaign “outside the U.N. system” to expand its NATO/Persian Gulf royalty/Jihadi coalition. Next stop: Tunisia, where Washington’s allies will assemble on February 24 to sharpen their knives as “Friends of Syria.” The U.S. State Department has mobilized to shape the “Friends” membership and their “mandate” – which is warlord-speak for refining an ad hoc alliance for the piratical assault on Syria’s sovereignty.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are swigging the ale with their fellow buccaneers. These “human rights” warriors, headquartered in the bellies of empires past and present, their chests shiny with medals of propagandistic service to superpower aggression in Libya, contribute “left” legitimacy to the imperial project. London-based Amnesty International held a global “day of action” to rail against Syria for “crimes against humanity” and to accuse Russia and China of using their Security Council vetoes to “betray” the Syrian people – echoing the war hysteria out of Washington, Paris, London and the royal pigsties of Riyadh and Doha. New York-based Human Rights Watch denounced Moscow and Beijing’s actions as “incendiary” – as if it were not the empire and its allies who were setting the Middle East and Africa on fire, arming and financing jihadis – including hundreds of veteran Libyan Salafists now operating in Syria.
Under Obama’s “intelligent” (as opposed to “dumb”) imperial tutelage, colonial genocidaires like France now propose creation of “humanitarian corridors” inside Syria “to allow NGOs to reach the zones where there are scandalous massacres.” NATO flatly rejected such a corridor in Libya when sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans were being massacred by militias armed and financed by the same “Friends” that now besiege Syria.
Turkey claims it has rejected, for now, the idea of setting up humanitarian “buffer zones” along its border with Syria – inside Syrian territory – while giving arms, training and sanctuary to Syrian military deserters. In reality, it is Syrian Army troop and armor concentrations on the border that have thwarted the establishment of such a “buffer” – a bald euphemism for creating a “liberated zone” that must be “protected” by NATO or some agglomeration of U.S.-backed forces.
NATO, which bombed Libya non-stop for six months, inflicting tens of thousands of casualties while refusing to count a single body, wants desperately to identify some sliver of Syrian soil on which to plant the “humanitarian” flag of intervention. They are transparently searching for a Benghazi, to justify a replay of the Libyan operation – the transparent fact that prompted the Russian and Chinese vetoes.
Faced with the certainty of superpower-backed attack under the guise of “protecting” civilians in “liberated” territory, Syria cannot afford to cede even one neighborhood of a single city – not one block! – or of any rural or border enclave, to armed rebels and foreign jihadis. That road leads directly to loss of sovereignty and possible dissection of Syria – which western pundits are already calling a “hodge-podge” nation that could be a “failed state.” Certainly, the French and British are experts at carving up other people’s territories, having drawn the national boundaries of the region after World War One. It is an understatement to say that Israel would be pleased.
With the Syrian military’s apparent successes in securing most of Homs and other centers of rebellion, the armed opposition has stepped up its terror tactics – a campaign noted with great alarm by the Arab League’s own Observer Mission to Syria, leading Saudi Arabia and Qatar to suppress the Mission’s report. Instead, the Gulf States are pressing the Arab League to openly “provide all kinds of political and material support” to the opposition, meaning arms and, undoubtedly, more Salafist fighters. Aleppo, Syria’s main commercial and industrial city, which had seen virtually no unrest, was struck by two deadly car bombs last week – signature work of the al-Qaida affiliate in neighboring Iraq.
The various “Friends of Syria,” all nestled in the U.S./NATO/Saudi/Qatar cocoon, now openly speak of all-out civil war in Syria – by which they mean stepped up armed conflict financed and directed by themselves – as the preferred alternative to the protracted struggle that the regime appears to be winning. There is one caveat: no “Western boots on the ground in any form,” as phrased by British Foreign Secretary William Hague. It is the Libya formula, and might as well have come straight from Barack Obama’s mouth.
Syria is fighting for its national existence against an umbrella of forces mobilized by the United States and NATO. Of the 6,000 or so people that have died in the past 11 months, about a third have been Syrian soldiers and police – statistical proof positive that this is an armed assault on the state. There is no question of massive foreign involvement, or that the aim of U.S. policy is regime change, as stated repeatedly by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (“Assad must go,” she told reporters in Bulgaria).
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have chosen sides in the Washington-backed belligerency – the side of Empire. As groups most often associated with (what passes for) the Left in their headquarters countries, they are invaluable allies of the current imperial offensive. They have many fellow travelers in (again, what passes for) anti-war circles in the colonizing and neo-colonizing nations. The French “Left” lifted hardly a finger while a million Algerians died in the struggle for independence, and have not proved effective allies of formerly colonized people in the 50 years, since. Among the European imperial powers, only Portugal’s so-called Carnation Revolution of 1974, a coup by young officers, resulted in substantial relief for the subjects of empire: the withdrawal of troops from Portugal’s African colonies.
The U.S. anti-war movement lost its mass character as soon as the threat of a draft was removed, in the early Seventies, while the United States continued to bomb Vietnam (and test new and exotic weapons on its people) until the fall of Saigon, in 1975. All that many U.S. lefties seemed to want was to get the Republicans off their backs, in 2008, and to Hell with the rest of the world. Democrat Barack Obama has cranked the imperial war machine back into high gear, with scarcely a peep from the “Left.”
There was great ambivalence – the most polite word I can muster – among purported leftists in the United States and Europe to NATO’s bombardment and subjugation of Libya. Here we are again, in the face of existential imperial threats to Syria and Iran, as leftists temporize about human rights while the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” blazes new warpaths.
There is no such thing as an anti-war activist who is not an anti-imperialist. And the only job of an anti-imperialist in the belly of the beast is to disarm the beast. Absent that, s/he is useless to humanity.
As we used to say: You are part of the solution – or you are part of the problem. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are part of the problem.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Road to Damascus… and on to Armageddon? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
A cover that declares a “War on Christians” is bound to get some attention.
Writing in the February 12 issue of Newsweek, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali‘s argument is just as blunt. Enough with all this talk “about Muslims as victims of abuse,” because really it’s the other way around:
A wholly different kind of war is underway–an unrecognized battle costing thousands of lives. Christians are being killed in the Islamic world because of their religion. It is a rising genocide that ought to provoke global alarm.
To suggest that a genocide is underway is, of course, a serious charge. And Hirsi Ali alleges that it is widespread:
In recent years, the violent oppression of Christian minorities has become the norm in Muslim-majority nations stretching from West Africa and the Middle East to South Asia and Oceania.
To make matters worse the media have been cowed into silence, due to “the influence of lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation–a kind of United Nations of Islam centered in Saudi Arabia–and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.” She writes:
Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading leading public figures and journalists in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a systematic and sinister derangement called “Islamophobia”–a term that is meant to elicit the same moral disapproval as xenophobia or homophobia.
So there is a genocide underway, and there are specific groups obscuring this fact and steering media away from covering this horror–in effect making them complicit in the genocide.
This is a remarkably serious charge. It is rather shocking to see it printed in a national magazine with so little evidence.
Ali’s piece is accompanied by a large graphic (which doesn’t appear to be online) labeled “Terrorist Attacks on Christians in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.” According to the graph, there were 45 such attacks in 2010. Violence of this sort is tragic; the anecdotes Hirsi Ali cites from Nigeria sound horrific.
But is it a genocide? And is the violence directed against Christians on the basis of religion? It is hard to see how one could make such a leap. In Egypt, for instance, Hirsi Ali points to an incident where Christian protesters were killed by state security forces. Hundreds have been killed in similar circumstances in Egypt over the past year. They were not all Christians, and they were not killed in a drive to stamp out members of a particular faith.
Hirsi Ali finds similar evidence elsewhere: “Since 2003, more than 900 Iraqi Christians (most of them Assyrians) have been killed by terrorist violence in Baghdad alone.” Of course, Baghdad has suffered terrible violence since the U.S. invasion and occupation. It is unclear why these particular deaths, a small percentage of total killings in Baghdad, should be considered part of a genocidal Muslim campaign against Christians. She adds that “thousands” of Iraqi Christians have fled their homes. But millions of Iraqis have done the same, across ethnic and religious lines. It’s hard to conclude that anti-Christian genocide is the story that is being kept out of the media by the likes of CAIR.
Hirsi Ali pleads with readers that we must “please get our priorities straight…. Instead of falling for overblown tales of Western Islamophobia, let’s take a real stand against the Christophobia infecting the Muslim world.”
It’s hard to know what she means; is there really some great danger that the West is doing too much to protect Muslims? The real implication here is that there is a genocide that must be stopped. That is an extremely serious charge. She fails to provide evidence to support that case, and manages to smear a major American Islamic advocacy group in the process.
Exclusive 2006 Footage by BBC
An examination of the proposed U.S. budget submitted by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Congress this week shows that although billions of dollars will be cut from domestic programs and the U.S. military, annual aid to Israel remains intact, and includes an increase of $25 million from last year.
Last year, the U.S. government gave $3.075 billion in unrestricted aid to Israel, and this year’s proposed budget includes $3.1 billion. This aid is given in addition to around $3 billion in loan guarantees which, unlike other loans, do not have to be paid back.
The cuts in this Congressional budget include an 18% cut in aid to former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, all of which have much lower GDPs than Israel. In fact, Israel is the only country receiving US aid to be above the 50th percentile economically – Israel is ranked in the richest one-third of countries in the world.
The U.S. State Department will receive a 10% decrease in funding for its programs in Iraq, despite the increased role of the State Department following the withdrawal of the U.S. military. U.S. combat operations overseas will be cut 23%, largely due to the military pullout from Iraq.
President Obama proposed the budget, which equals $3.8 trillion and includes over $1 trillion in cuts, in order to address the massive deficit left by former President George W. Bush. A bi-partisan committee, known as the ‘budget supercommittee’, tasked with recommending cuts last October failed to reach an agreement on what to cut, leaving it up to the President to propose a budget that would significantly reduce the deficit.
U.S. aid to Israel has been a part of each annual Congressional budget since 1967, and the amount has increased over time. Upon taking office, Obama recommended that U.S. aid to Israel continue at the $3 billion a year rate for the next ten years, totaling at least $30 billion (without counting loan guarantees and gifts of weaponry). The U.S. Congress overwhelmingly agreed with this assessment.
- U.S. Government Pledges $3.8 Billion In Loan Guarantees To Israel (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Pentagon asks for extra $100 million to Israel for Iran defense (and Congress doubles the tip) (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An Israeli military force invaded the offices and homes of three Palestinian members of Parliament and confiscated their computers and cell phones in the early hours of Thursday morning, Palestinian media sources reported.
According to the source, Israeli troops broke into the house and office of Ibrahim Dahbour, Khaled Suleiman and Khaled Yahia in the West Bank city of Jenin and were interrogated by an Israeli intelligence officer.
The invading troops took the cell phones, computers and some private documents form the MP’s homes without showing any search warrant.
Khaled Suleiman said the soldiers told him that they are closing the office until further notice, but gave him no written official order proving their claim.
- Speaker Of Palestine Parliament Receives Six Months Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli Troops Break Into House of IMEMC Board Member (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The British government has claimed the allegations by London and its western allies that Iran is covertly pursuing a military nuclear program are evidence-based.
London’s claim is diametrically opposed even to the anti-Iranian report by the UN nuclear watchdog’s chief that confirmed no evidence is yet available to support claims of a military side to Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities.
After Iran announced several breakthroughs in its civilian nuclear program on Wednesday, a British Foreign Office spokesman said the international concerns about Iran’s activities are “well-founded”.
“[The nuclear news from Iran] does not give any confidence that Iran is ready to engage meaningfully on the international community’s well-founded concerns about its nuclear programme,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.
However, the spokesman did not explain based on what evidence the western concerns could be described as “well-founded.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency accused Tehran of pursuing military nuclear ambitions in its latest safeguards report published in November.
Even in that report, the IAEA talked of “possible” military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
It, nevertheless, drew condemnations from Iran and independent analysts who described the report as “biased” and “political” as it presented ‘no’ evidence to support the claim.
In reaction to the report, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the report is “a compilation of well-known facts that have intentionally been given a politicized intonation.”
The statement said the authors “resort to assumptions and suspicions, and juggle information with the purpose of creating the impression that the Iranian nuclear program has a military component.”
Russia accordingly dismissed calls led by the US for harsher UN Security Council sanctions against Iran saying more embargoes would be “an instrument of regime changes in Tehran.”
Following Russian and Chinese resistance to strong sanctions, the US and its European allies moved to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran on an arbitrary basis and outside the framework of international law.
This comes as the British Foreign Office spokesman who talked of “well-founded” concerns on Iran claimed the “peaceful” pressure – that is sanctions – on Iran is legitimate and Britain would continue to support such actions.
“[Until Iran addresses the international community’s concerns] we’ll only increase peaceful and legitimate pressure on Iran to return to negotiations,” the spokesman said.